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July 1, 2021 3:05 pm

Philadelphia City Council Approves Hearing Over Food Truck Festival That Disinvited Israeli Vendor, ‘Mishandled’ Antisemitic Threats


avatar by Shiryn Ghermezian

The food truck of Philadelphia Israeli food vendor Moshava. Photo: Facebook.

A Philadelphia City Council resolution has authorized an investigation into an incident involving an Israeli food truck that was disinvited from a local food festival, which was subsequently cancelled following outrage.

The June 24 resolution allows the city’s Committee on Commerce and Economic Development to hold a hearing about Moshava’s exclusion from the “Taste of Home” food festival, and to “raise awareness of a recent rise in antisemitism, and discuss best practices for organizations and cultural event planners facing similar situations in the future.”

“Taste of Home” was scheduled for Sunday, June 20, in Philadelphia, and was organized by the local non-profits Eat Up the Borders (EUTB) and Sunflower Philly. On June 19, Moshava, which serves Israeli cuisine, announced on social media that it was disinvited from participating in the food festival due to antisemitic threats of violence and protests that organizers of the event had received regarding the truck’s presence. After organizers were lambasted for disinviting Moshava, the entire food festival was called off, while EUTB apologized for cancelling the Israeli vendor’s involvement in the event.

The resolution noted that while Moshava does not believe the decision of the event’s organizers stemmed from antisemitism, “an Israeli vendor was excluded from a public event at a moment where antisemitic incidents have been on the rise in the United States.”

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“Threats to the safety of this event based on the presence of an Israeli food truck are antisemitic,” the resolution stated. “When we consider that Moshava and the festival itself were threatened for an Israeli food truck’s participation in the festival, the broader context of violence against Jews is essential context. The mishandling of concerns of protest and aggression by organizers of the ‘A Taste of Home’ event, in addition to mismanaged communications with Moshava, the other participants of the event and the public highlights the need to discuss and present new best practices for these types of cultural events.

“The Philadelphia Commission on Human Relations has agreed to do a full review of this specific situation.”

The American Jewish Committee (AJC) Philadelphia/Southern New Jersey said in a released statement on June 25 that it commends the City Council’s decision to investigate the incident.

“AJC looks forward to participating in the hearing, providing testimony in the future, and offering resources and support to ensure that an incident like this never happens in our city again,” AJC Associate Director Hilary Levine told the Council before the vote on June 24.

Marcia Bronstein, director of AJC Philadelphia/Southern New Jersey, said, “We also look forward to the Philadelphia Human Relations Commission and Pennsylvania Human Relations Commission investigations to ensure that discriminatory and hateful incidents and threats of violence and the failure of anyone to report those threats never take place in our city or state again.”

Representatives from the AJC, Jewish Federation of Greater Philadelphia, Jewish Community Relations Council, Anti-Defamation League (ADL), Jews in ALL Hues and the Board of Rabbis of Greater Philadelphia will meet with the “Taste of Home” organizers on July 13 “to understand the threats of violence, provide education and urge further action to ensure their events are truly inclusive,” the ADL said.

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